Why Do Cars Rust and How Can I Prevent It?

When and why does rust form?


In order to learn the most effective methods for preventing rust growth on your vehicle, we first have to understand what is causing the rust to develop in the first place. Rust is a form of iron oxide, so it will develop over time on any surface that contains iron (such as the steel your car is made of) and is exposed to water and oxygen for extended periods of time. This means that if you live in a humid climate, your vehicle is more likely to rust. Salt is another great catalyst for rust formation. Living near the sea where salt water is prevalent, or in colder climates where road salt is used regularly to remove ice and snow, can also play large parts in the rusting of your vehicle.

Preventing rust formation from natural causes like these has been made a lot easier in recent years. The majority of newer vehicle models use galvanized steel, which can last up to 70 years before corrosion occurs. In addition to the galvanized steel, the newer paint coats used on these vehicles offer their own form of rust prevention. In most cases you can keep your vehicle rust-free by simply being cautious of moisture or road salt contact and regularly maintaining your vehicle by washing it often and occasionally applying a wax coat.

Rust and abrasive blasting


While weather and time related rust formation is among the most common, cars will often rust after paint removal. As we mentioned, most coats of paint have qualities that help prevent rusting. When the paint is removed from the vehicle it will become more likely to rust, especially if the coating removal method used involves water.  Abrasive blasting is the quickest and safest way to remove unwanted coatings of all kinds from your vehicle. The abrasive or sandblasting process, wet or dry, can create rust, but there are some easy methods to prevent rust from forming quickly after the removal. 

How to prevent rust while WET blastingRustGraphic3

When a car's surface is stripped using a wet abrasive blasting technique, the substrate becomes susceptible to flash rust. When wet blasting, the abrasive is mixed with water and carried out by pressurized air to remove coatings such as primer, paint and body filler. Even though this water is being used to remove coatings or in some cases even rust itself, it can still cause a new batch of rust to form. This flash rust that forms after blasting can occur within hours of the project being completed. This is why we highly recommend that when you wet blast a vehicle, you make sure that the water source used is clean and free of chlorine or similar contents. This is a great starting point for flash rust prevention. 

The best way to prevent flash rust after wet blasting is by using a rust inhibitor. Rust inhibitors slow down the oxidation process necessary for rust to form. By slowing it down, you can give yourself up to a few days to prime and repaint the vehicle without having to worry about rust. Mixing the water used in the blast pot with rust inhibitor, and rinsing your vehicle (or any metal project!) once more with rust inhibitor after blasting will help ensure that the substrate is left clean and free of any minuscule debris that may cause issues during the re-coating process.

Just as important as the application of rust inhibitor is, how you take care of the project between the time you rinse it and the time you prime it. Make sure that during this time your project is properly dried, completely protected from the elements, and isn't contacted by bare hands or anything that may dirty the substrate. It is also best to minimize the time between rinsing and priming.


How to prevent rust while Dry blasting

Dry blasting does not utilize water, but that doesn't mean that rust or flash rust can't form. With no water used to promote cleaning, the substrate may actually end up with embedded blasting particles left behind on a microscopic level. This could create a future coating failure due to the contaminants not being properly washed away. To combat rust formation when dry blasting, simply rinse the material with Rust Inhibitor treated water after blasting. 

You will need to take the same amount of care and precaution between the completion and priming steps of a dry blasted project as you would with a wet blasted project. This is the time where flash rust is most likely to form so always make sure you are taking the necessary steps to protect your vehicle.

For all the information you need on abrasive blasting a vehicle, checkout our complete car restoration guide here!

Dustless Blasting Rust Inhibitor


Rust Inhibitor is Non-hazardous, biodegradable and completely water soluble. This simple step is critical to effectively remove contaminants to prevent flash rust for up to 72 hours. This product will also improve coating adhesion and enhance paint performance all while being non-toxic, biodegradable and non-hazardous. You can find rust inhibitor for your next job here.


1.) Blast with Rust Inhibitor Treated Water
Blasting with rust inhibitor in the water cleans the metal while preventing it from being embedded with chlorides.

2.) Rinse with Rust Inhibitor Treated Water
After blasting, the metal still needs a final rinse. Using the Inhibitor and water at a 1.3 oz per gallon ratio will work perfect.

3.) Remove Standing Water from the Metal
Allowing the metal to dry completely is important. Using something like a leaf blower can quickly remove any standing water from the metal.

4.) Avoid Re-Contamination
Dirt, body oil and moisture all cause rust. Be sure to wear clean rubber gloves when handling the metal and keep away from causes of additional moisture (like morning dew) if left out overnight.

Rust is a common problem car owners face, but it can be easily prevented or treated with proper care and maintenance. Regular washing, waxing, storing your car in a dry place, and fixing scratches and dents will all help to prevent rust formation. If your car is already suffering from rust, dustless blasting equipment is an effective and safe way to remove the rust and restore the metal surface.

The Best Way To Remove and Prevent Rust

If your car is already suffering from rust, you can use Dustless Blasting equipment to remove the rust and restore the metal surface. Dustless blasting is a process that uses a high-pressure blast of water and abrasive material to remove rust and other surface contaminants without creating dust. This process is effective and safe for removing rust from cars, and it leaves the metal surface clean and ready for paint or rust inhibitor.

In conclusion, rust is a common problem for car owners, but it can be prevented and treated with proper care and maintenance. Regular washing, waxing, storing your car in a dry place, fixing scratches and dents, and using rust inhibitors are all effective steps in preventing rust from forming. And if your car is already suffering from rust, dustless blasting equipment is an effective and safe way to remove the rust and restore the metal surface.

New call-to-action